Business owners up in arms over Daintree Ferry shutdown

DAINTREE

Mark Murray

Journalist

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Daintree businesses stand to lose money from the forced ferry closure later this month. IMAGE: Supplied.
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Daintree Ferry to be pulled from the water


BUSINESS owners are seething over a planned five-day shutdown of the Daintree Ferry.

Tourism operators and residents have slammed the Douglas Shire Council for a lack of consultation into the forced closure, which will see the ferry removed from the Daintree River for the first time in 10 years.

“If I went into Port Douglas and shut your road down for five days, and took away your income for five days, what would you do?” Cape Tribulation Wilderness Tours owner Ernie Dillon told Newsport.

“I’ve got a family and commitments that need to be met. It’s affecting everybody."

Businesses are preparing to lose thousands of dollars from a maritime safety inspection scheduled for February 28 to March 4.

David Mainwaring, from Daintree Ice Cream Company, said the closure would cost his business $14,000.

“Of course it will impact us, but more than anyone it impacts our staff," he said.

"We’ve got a considerable workforce all counting on that income. Now it’s gone.”

Heritage Lodge and Spa owner Vicki Bidwell said she was particularly disappointed with the lack of warning.

“If we had of found out earlier I could have sent my staff on holidays, now we have to screw them over and say don’t come into work for a week," she said.

“We could have planned for this had we known even three months ago.

“Council had to have known about this for longer than a month. There had to be a lot of planning before any of us knew about it.”

Mayor Julia Leu defended Council's position today, saying they only became aware of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s (AMSA) dry-docking requirement in December.

She also hit back at criticism from Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch, who labeled the shutdown as ‘absolutely shameful’.

“His embarrassing comments show how oblivious he is to his own Government and are a clear attempt to make Council a scapegoat,” Cr Leu said.

“It was his Government’s department (AMSA) that ‘dumped’ this dry-docking requirement on Douglas Shire Council before Christmas."

Cr Leu said her team had been working extensively to minimise the impact to residents north of river, organising free shuttle buses, traffic management plans and security for parked vehicles.

“Perhaps this could be an opportunity for the Federal Government to help Daintree residents deal with this AMSA requirement, rather than throw mud and start council-bashing," she said.

Ferry contractors and council had been going ‘over and above the ferry contract requirements’ to alleviate the impact of the closure, according to Cr Leu.

Emergency Services have also been notified of the shutdown and will be transported by a boat across the Daintree River if required.


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